For most of us, we write a new blog post, then maybe we share it on Twitter and Facebook, and hope for the best. We tell ourselves that ‘good content will find an audience.’
But is that really true? Can we realistically expect to spend 30 mins writing a blog post that becomes a masterpiece just because we publish it? Or do we need a more robust strategy to give our content a fighting chance to be seen among all the other millions of pieces of digital content that are being created right now?
I would say that we do, and I think we can take a lot of inspiration from how rock stars create and market their new music. Let’s look at the creation process and then the promotional process:
Step One: Writing the songs
This is where the rock star gets the basic idea for the song down on paper. The lyrics, the chorus, the title. None of this is finalized, it’s sort of a rough draft of what the song could be. The songwriter is telling a story and while the fine details may need to be ironed out, the basic idea is there. This is very similar to you writing a draft for your blog post. You might want to revisit that draft and refine it, but you have the general idea down for your post and the point you want to make. If you need advice on how to write an awesome blog post, here’s my 2,000 word guide on how to do so.
Step Two: Recording and producing the song
Now at this point many bloggers feel their post is finished, and they will publish it. But rock stars take their song, and give it to a producer. That producer will then consult with the rock star on the song’s arrangement and musical elements and how they can compliment the lyrics of the song. This would be very similar to a blogger handing her post over to an editor to review it before publishing. If the rock star works with a stellar producer, the end result will be a much better song, just as when you let an excellent editor review your post, it will be improved.
But again, most bloggers skip this step and never let their posts be edited or reviewed. This might not be as big of a deal for a seasoned blogger that can self-edit, but for the new blogger especially, it helps to have a trained set of eyes reviewing your content. One of the key areas where bloggers short-change themselves is on the post’s headline. Headlines are an art for bloggers and songwriters. John Denver’s iconic song Leavin’ on a Jet Plane was originally released as ‘Babe I Hate to Go’. His new manager listened to the song and recommended the change based on what the song was actually about. Many bloggers have the same issue, they summarize the post with the headline instead of actually telling readers what its about. Here’s some tips on improving your headline writing. Headlines are insanely important, so are the visual elements of your post; the picture you use to accompany the post, any videos you choose. Sweat the details.
Step Three: Promoting the song and helping it find an audience
Now for the average blogger, this means sending out a tweet on Twitter, an update on Facebook, and hoping for the best Rock stars do this as well, but they also actively court radio stations to play their songs. Rock stars know that radio play is wonderful exposure for their music. You can do the same thing by actively courting friends and fellow bloggers to promote your content. You can also greatly improve your chance of having other bloggers promote your content if you do two things: First is actively promote their content. If you are already promoting my content and you ask me to promote yours, odds are I will unless your content is a complete mis-match for my brand. Second, selectively ask bloggers to promote content that they would be interested in. Don’t ask me to promote your new blog post on how to grow an organic garden. But do ask me to promote your new post on launching a brand advocacy effort at your company.
BONUS: Social media isn’t just Twitter and Facebook anymore. Social media savvy artists are leveraging multiple tools online, a blog, Twitter Facebook but also Instagram (big hit with artists and fans) and YouTube. The point is to hustle.
Step Four: Promotion leads to hit songs and that leads to concerts and appearances
As a rock stars’ new music is promoted, some of those songs will find a large audience and become popular. One hit song can take a band playing local clubs and turn them into an international star. As rock stars start to create hit songs, their fanbases grow and spread. So connecting directly with them via concerts and appearances makes good sense.
You can do the same thing with your blog posts that become popular. Let’s say you write a blog post “5 Tips For Marketers That Want to Crush It On YouTube Today”, that ends up being incredibly popular. The popularity of that post makes you more marketable. You can reach out to twitter chats and ask to co-host, I bet the #YouTubeMarketing twitter chat (if such a thing exists) would love to have you co-host to discuss the tips from your post. Also, reach out to bloggers and ask to write a guest post on YouTube marketing tips. Remind them of how popular your post was and they will probably be interested as you have already proven that your topic resonates with readers. All of this means more exposure for you and your content.
Step Five: Rock stars take their biggest hits and create a Greatest Hits album
There’s a lot of talk about ‘re-imaging’ content these days, but rock stars have always done this. They take their most popular music and use it in as many ways as possible. One example is how rock stars that have had a successful career will sell a Greatest Hits album. This gives fans new and old a way to get most of the rock star’s biggest hits and most popular songs, all on one album.
Now at this point, it’s time to take a step back for a second. A week or so ago I was watching a PBS documentary on John Denver. Denver had a pretty long musical career, from about 1969 to 1984 or so. About 15 years, and for the majority of the 1970s, he was one of the biggest musical stars on the planet.
But as I was watching this documentary, I realized that I could only really recall 2-3 hit songs of Denver’s. Rocky Mountain High, Take Me Home Country Roads, and maybe Leavin’ on a Jet Plane. Sure, there were a few others and diehard John Denver fans are already rattling off several other songs, but for the casual John Denver fan, that 15 year career resulted in maybe 3-5 songs that were memorable.
Think about that for a minute. Even truly successful rock stars only have a handful of big hits over their entire careers. Now think about your favorite blogger. Name your favorite 3-5 posts from your favorite blogger. Hard to do, isn’t it? The point is that you are NOT going to have many posts go ‘viral’ and it is often hard to predict which ones will. You can improve your changes through simple trial and error, but for most of us, even if you blog for years you will be lucky to have even 2-3 posts that truly spread like wildfire.
So as a blogger, you want to make it as easy as possible for other people to find your best content. Look at the top right of this blog. Notice I have created a Most Popular Posts section. These are hand-picked posts that I want you to check out. These are some of my ‘greatest hits’. Also, when I share posts on social media sites, I focus on about 10 posts that cover topics I want to be known for. Community-building, brand advocacy, content marketing. It helps brand me, plus it gives more exposure to posts that cover topics that I want to see be more popular.
The Secret Bonus Tip:
Hopefully you’ve picked up on something while reading this post. There is a LOT of work involved in creating successful content. It’s not just about writing a masterpiece in 15 mins and then waiting for fame and fortune. You have to work hard on writing great content, and even harder promoting the content after its done. Now all of this process becomes easier as you become more experienced, but there’s no shortcuts. You need to have a robust strategy in place for creating your content, for polishing it, and then for promoting it.
I’m guilty of this too. Too often I whip out a post in 30 mins, then tweet it on Twitter and that’s it. Professional bloggers don’t do this. They invest hours in each post. They research, they agonize over the perfect headline, the perfect accompanying picture. They sweat every detail. Which is exactly why their content has an audience that hungrily devours everything they write.
I love the tweet from Jessica above. She’s killed it with #CMChat as she’s turned it from being a Twitter chat to a literal online empire. But it took hard work and harder sacrifices. Following your dreams and creating something amazing usually does.
So change the focus of your content creation. Stop thinking of each post and throw-away, but instead view every piece of content you create as a potential mega-hit that you are releasing to the public. Focus on the creation, the post-writing editing, and the publishing and promotion. And if you need help, I’ve created this graph to keep you straight rockin’ your content from now on:
PS: It took about 10 hours to write this post, including research, visual elements and creating a custom graphical checklist. And now the real work begins..and all I’ve done is increase the chances that the content will be more popular.